2015 Warriors vs. ’96 Bulls – Who wins?

96-bulls-vs-2015-warriorsSeveral teams could make an argument for being the best in NBA history. And the 1996 Chicago Bulls are definitely among the greatest—if not THE greatest—teams of all time since they earned the top NBA record at 72-9, before cruising through the playoffs with a 15-3 mark. But would the ’96 Bulls have beaten the 2015 Golden State Warriors?

This has actually become a legitimate debate after the Warriors’ record-breaking 18-0 start. And it’s not like this is an unproven team either because Golden State won the NBA Championship last year. Now they are chasing further greatness, back-to-back titles and the best NBA record of all time.

Given the Warriors’ recent record for best start, they certainly have a claim to be better than the ’96 Chicago team. And former NBA player and Sixth Man of the Year Eddie Johnson recently discussed the matter through a column for Hoops Hype.

michael-jordan-bullsIn order to offer a truly valid comparison, Johnson went through and compared each position matchup, from Michael Jordan vs. Klay Thompson to Dennis Rodman vs. Draymond Green. Here’s a look at Jordan vs. Thompson, for example:

Jordan: The one thing people didn’t understand about him is how strong he was. He could control your body position on both ends of the court despite any weight advantage you might have. That gave him a tremendous edge based on his superior basketball skills. The trait that separated him was his fanatical will to destroy you. Klay would meet that person and then some in every facet of the game.

Thompson: Believe it or not, Jordan was easy to score on early in games because he concentrated on getting his offensive rhythm flowing. You allow Klay great looks early and he can compete with anyone. He is one the best three-way offensive players in the league. He’s good at shooting, driving and posting up, but he would wear down eventually from the intense pressure Jordan applies on both ends of the court.

klay-thompsonDespite how good Thompson is today, this was an easy one in favor of the ’96 Bulls. Jordan is arguably the greatest player of all time, and he willed Chicago to six championships during his time there. Overall, though, Johnson thinks that Golden State’s depth, top-to-bottom athleticism and shooting would be enough for them to overcome the Bulls.

But while this makes for great conversation, the prediction may be a little premature. In 1996, Chicago was gunning for its third-straight title as they completely demolished the rest of the NBA. Golden State is currently hoping for their second-straight championship, and they’re off to an 18-0 start. But we aren’t even one-fourth of the way through the season, so the Warriors will need to match or beat Chicago’s all-time mark of 72 victories and win the title before they are definitely better.

In any case, it should be fun to continue making these comparisons as the 2015-16 NBA season continues. Golden State will try to extend their magical start against the Utah Jazz on Monday (Nov. 30). So if you’re interested in betting on this game or any other Golden State Warriors contest this season, be sure to visit us at GTBets.eu.

Cavs vs Warriors Betting Game 2: Rihanna curses JR. Smith – Will He be Okay?

jr-smith-rihanna-nba-finalsThe first game is now in the books between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors, with the latter winning 108-100 (OT) on their home floor. The Cavs had two chances to win the game in regulation, with LeBron James missing a jump shot and Iman Shumpert missing a last-second put-back. It’s not hard to pinpoint the X-factor here: JR Smith only hit 3-of-13 from the field at a time when Cleveland needed his clutch shooting. Additionally, Kyrie Irving left with another knee injury, making some wonder if this will even be a series anymore. We’ll discuss that, along with Rihanna’s possible effect on Smith, but first, here’s the Cavs vs Warriors Game 2 betting line:

Game Time: Sunday (June 7th) at 8:00 ET
GTBets.eu Line:
Golden State -8 (-110)       Over 200.5 (-110)
Cleveland (-110)               Under 200.5 (-110)

Judging by the line, this shouldn’t be much of a contest – especially with the Warriors at Oracle Arena again. Of course, the theme here, including mine personally, is that you can’t count LeBron out. But is it finally time to do so, given that King James is against a seemingly unbeatable army? Let’s look at five important factors that will determine Game 2 between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers.

1. Golden State Small Ball can break Any Team

Draymond Green, LeBron JamesOvertime finally saw Steve Kerr pull out the small ball lineup that has crushed so many other teams this year – Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Igoudala, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green playing center. These five, who are interchangeable with a couple bench players, give the Warriors five players who can shoot, dribble and spread the floor. The fear is that the Cavs can kill Golden State on the boards and inside with this small ball lineup. However, that was far from the case in the first game.

2. Kyrie Irving is done for the Finals – The Cavs are Possibly done Too

Irving already came into this series knowing that he wouldn’t be 100%. However, he looked like he was near 100% while shooting 10-for-22 and pouring in 23 points. That was before he went down near the end of Game 1 and limped back to the locker room; now the diagnosis is in – Irving has a fractured knee cap and needs surgery plus 3-4 months of recovery. Cleveland got by with Matthew Dellavedova at point in the Eastern Conference playoffs, but it’s highly unlikely they can repeat that feat against the Warriors.

3. JR Smith shot Terribly – But He has to be on Fire

jr-smith-clevelandTwitter was ablaze with rumors that Rihanna cursed JR Smith in the first game, as he shot only 3-for-13 with 9 points in 34 minutes. Smith was a hero in the Bulls and Hawks series for Cleveland, hitting timely shots and playing good defense. But some suggest that he wasn’t himself with Rihanna in the crowd because they supposedly have beef with each other. Whatever the case may be, Smith did not look good in the first game and he’ll have to get on fire for Cleveland when considering how limited their offensive options are.

4. Andre Igoudala did not stop LeBron – He took Advantage of Opportunity

Many headlines claim that Igoudala stopped LeBron down the stretch, or at the very least slowed him down. Well, the game footage shows that James did play somewhat worse offensively with Igoudala guarding him. And Iggy is definitely one of the league’s better wing defenders. But this isn’t just great defense at play – it’s great defense combined with Warriors depth. At any time, James could be facing Green, Igoudala or Harrison Barnes, meaning he’s never going to get a break this series.

5. Golden State’s Bench will win this One Easily

Given Irving’s status, Cleveland doesn’t seem to have any chance on the road, against the league’s toughest team. They might win 1-2 games in the series if they’re lucky, but Golden State just has way too much depth for the Cavs to contend with. And here’s a parting stat just to hammer this point home:

GS Bench = 14-for-27 shooting, 34 points
Cleveland Bench = 4-for-14, 9 points

Game 2 Score Prediction: Golden State 105, Cleveland 93

Does beating Warriors make Cleveland Cavaliers the NBA’s Best Team?

Draymond Green, LeBron JamesLast night featured one of the most-anticipated games of the 2014-15 NBA season, with the Cleveland Cavaliers hosting the Golden State Warriors. All eyes were on this contest because Golden State featured the league’s best record at 44-10, while Cleveland is hitting their stride after winning 17 out of their last 19 games.

This matchup was potentially a 2015 NBA Finals preview, and if the results are any indication – a 110-99 victory by Cleveland – the East should do very well in the Finals. Okay, so that’s putting the cart ahead of the horse, but the Cavs have even more momentum going forward after this huge victory.

The same can be said of LeBron James, who scored a season-high 42 points and grabbed 11 rebounds against Golden State. He came out strong right from the gate after scoring 24 points in the first half, and he continued attacking in the second half too. Kyrie Irving pitched in 24 points, along with a 10-for-10 performance from the free throw line.

Golden State’s star players, on the other hand, didn’t fare quite so well. Stephen Curry ended with 18 points on 5-of-17 shooting while Klay Thompson added 13 points on 5-of-13 shooting. David Lee came off the bench to lead the Warriors with 19 points.

cleveland-cavs-beat-warriors-1One thing became immediately clear after this game: for the first time since the season’s start, Cleveland is truly back in the discussion for serious title contenders. Furthermore, LeBron has made himself a strong MVP candidate with his best performance of the year against the NBA’s top team. King James easily outplayed one of the strongest MVP contenders, Curry, while continuing the excellence that started when he came back from an 8-game layoff in January. Of course, if LeBron falls short of the MVP award, he can still sleep at night knowing that he’s already earned 4 of them.

His bigger dream at this point is definitely bringing Cleveland its first NBA title. And this seems like a very realistic goal when considering that the Cavs continue climbing in the Eastern Conference standings. They’re currently half a game ahead of Chicago in the Central Division, while maintaining the number-three seed. They also sit just a game behind Toronto for the East’s second seed. Cleveland likely won’t catch Atlanta for the top seed, but if they keep playing like this, will it really matter? Moreover, is there another NBA team that can beat them?

If the Warriors hope to answer yes to this question, they’ll need a stronger defensive effort in the future. This shouldn’t be a problem because, coming into last night’s contest, they ranked No. 1 in defensive efficiency. However, they couldn’t contain a red-hot start from the Cavs, who put up 32 points in the first quarter and 61 by halftime.

James lighting up Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes was a big reason for this offensive outburst. But four other Cavs ended up in double digits too, meaning there’s no shortage of options on the Cleveland roster. Of course, there are over three months of basketball left to be played, so it’s a little early to anoint the Cavs as the automatic champion.

Golden State Warriors Betting: Was Klay Thompson’s Max Contract a Good Idea?

klay-thompson-max-contractOn the surface, it appears that Klay Thompson is worth every penny of the 4-year, $70 million max contract that he just signed with the Golden State Warriors. After all, the 6’7″ shooting guard is just 24, he’s leading the league with 29.7 PPG, and he’s nailing almost 54% of his shots from the field. So if there’s somebody who deserves a max contract it’s this guy, right?

Purely in terms of scoring and shooting the basketball, yes, Thompson’s contract is totally justified. But from a winning perspective, this move has to be questioned by anybody who looks closely at the matter.

First off, consider that noted champions like Kobe Bryant and Dwayne Wade had already won NBA Championships by the time that they signed a major contract. Sure many free agents also get max deals without truly proving they’re winners. However, the teams that sign/re-sign them out of desperation are often relegated to mediocrity for years in the aftermath.

Now consider Thompson, who’s being paid like the centerpiece of a championship caliber team that includes Stephen Curry and Andre Iguodala. So far in Thompson’s young career, the team has missed the playoffs once (2012), lost to the Spurs in the conference semifinals (2013), and lost to the LA Clippers in the first round. And while they won 51 games last year, legacies are made through the playoffs, where Golden State had a regression.

Thompson’s playoff legacy right now is of a guy whose game fades when the competition level is increased. For evidence of this, look at how his numbers dipped against the Clippers:

2013-14 Regular Season – 44% shooting, 41.7% three-point, 18.4 PPG
2014 Playoffs (7 Games) – 40.8% shooting, 36.4% three-point, 16.4 PPG

klay-thompson-max-contract-1Assuming the Warriors make the playoffs again this season, one could argue that Thompson’s scoring and shooting will pick up. But the flipside is that there’s no guarantee his game will rise to the level of NBA postseason competition.

What’s more is that Thompson doesn’t turn in big numbers on the defensive end either. Last season he averaged 0.9 SPG and 0.5 BPG through 81 contests. These aren’t exactly stats that would impress Bryant, Wade, Michael Jordan, Jerry West or any other championship shooting guard who cared just as much on the other end of the floor.

Let’s face it…the Warriors overpaid for a one-dimensional shooter who’s won one playoff series in his career. Granted he’s a great shooter who will get better over the years. Furthermore, somebody was going to pay this guy the big bucks – definitely Minnesota if they could landed him through the failed Kevin Love trade.

But now Thompson becomes one more huge contract on a team that has too many of them. And while he may provide much more than the oft-injured Andrew Bogut and his $13 million contract, we don’t see Thompson becoming the type of max-contract player who carries his club deep into the playoffs.